A richly sourced and meticulous—albeit Nixon-centric—case for why January 1973 matters.



What was so special about January 1973? Robenalt (The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War, 2009, etc.) makes the bold claim that this month signaled a turning point in the history of American political life.

The author focuses on the convergence of three major events: the first Watergate trial, which led to the unraveling of the Nixon Administration; the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, intended to end the war in Vietnam; and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions to protect a woman’s right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. His persuasive if somewhat self-evident argument, mostly confined to the book’s introduction and epilogue, is that one vision of America, based on Cold War hubris abroad and the welfare state at home, died in the first month of 1973. In its place arose the “Nixon counterrevolution,” giving new shape to conservatism as a political force and poisoning the body politic with new strains of mean-spiritedness and (after Roe v. Wade) religious mania. For the bulk of the book, however, Robenalt keeps his argument subdued and offers a straightforward account of the month’s events, as though he were presenting evidence in a case. He makes ample use of the Nixon tapes, diaries, and other primary sources, but the results can be overly detailed, even tediously quotidian. Things get interesting, though, when Nixon takes the stage, playing the central role. Fresh off his re-election, Nixon was by turns erratic, devious, repellent, sympathetic, lonesome, and drunk. But he is always fascinating in Robenalt’s unvarnished portrait of a flawed leader grappling with momentous events and heading, ultimately, toward ruin. This immersive microhistory offers macro conclusions about American politics.

A richly sourced and meticulous—albeit Nixon-centric—case for why January 1973 matters.

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61374-965-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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